Bellflower Planner Named : Cerritos College Board Fills Vacancy

Times Staff Writer

Joseph Stits, a high school principal and Bellflower planning commissioner, was chosen over eight candidates last week to fill the Cerritos Community College term of outgoing Trustee Robert D. Epple.

Stits, 51 and principal of Somerset Continuation High School, won appointment on a 5-1 trustee vote. Trustee Ruth Banda, also of Bellflower, cast the dissenting ballot. Stits will serve at least until next November, when his seat and three others go up for election.

Epple resigned last fall upon his election to the Legislature.

“I have something to offer in regards that my background has been so varied,” Stits said of his appointment.


Professional Educator

Because he is a professional educator whose wife, Darla, works part-time as a graphics designer for the college, Stits said he had worried that the trustees might see him as having “a couple of liabilities.”

Stits has worked in the Bellflower Unified School District for the past 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator, and has more than 20 years of professional and community service in the area.

He is the past president of both the Bellflower Leadership and Support Team and the Los Angeles County Continuation Education Assn. He has a bachelor’s degree in social science from Cal State Long Beach and a master’s degree in psychology and counseling from La Verne University.

Mayor Pleased

Hawaiian Gardens’ Mayor Kathleen Navejas, a frequent opponent of the at-large selection and appointment process for trustees, said she was pleased with Stits’ selection.

“It sounds like they (the trustees) made a good choice,” she said.

Stits may be asked to resign his Planning Commission post if Bellflower officials determine that it poses a conflict of interest with his responsibilities as a college trustee.

Stits said he is unsure whether he will seek election to the board in November.

“I just want to learn to be a good board member,” he said. “It takes a while to learn the ropes.”

Ten candidates had applied for the appointed position, but one withdrew before last week’s trustee vote.